Feb. 1, 2016 —
Afghanistan (Feb. 1, 2016) —
With help from the Security Assistance Office-Afghanistan, 1st Lt. Mohammad Yarghal
became the fourth member of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces to
earn the title of Ranger.
The 27-year-old Afghan soldier recently returned to Afghanistan following a
year of training in the United States. He first attended the four-month
American Language Course at the Defense Language Institute in San Antonio.
Then, he completed the 17-week Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course
followed by a two-week Ranger Training Assessment Course, two months at Ranger
School and three weeks of Basic Airborne Course, all at Fort Benning, Ga.
Yarghal, who is from Khost province, was inspired to join the Afghan National
Army at a young age by a general who hailed from his village. In high school,
he enacted his plan to serve his country and prepared to apply for the National
Military Academy of Afghanistan.
“I read a lot of books, and did PT [physical training] all the time,” explained
Yarghal. “In my village, I have a place where I would run, usually one or two
hours a day, and the locals call it by my name.”
Yarghal was accepted into the prestigious four-year academy, which is
structured similarly to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Upon
graduation in 2012, he attended infantry school in Afghanistan for three
“My father was a doctor for the Mujahedeen,” said Yarghal. “He told me if I
wanted to be a good officer and leader, I needed to do infantry. Massoud
[Afghan political and military leader] was an infantry commander; so I chose
A fellow soldier told Yarghal about a four-month infantry course in the United
States that he could attend, along with a school where he could become a
paratrooper, a skill he believes is important for all armies.
“My goal in the Afghan National Army was to become a leader who can keep my
soldiers strong,” said Yarghal. “I wanted to be the best I could be.”
Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan’s Security Assistance
Office-Afghanistan stepped in to make the lieutenant’s dream a reality.
“After a candidate for training in the U.S. is identified, they take the
American Language Course Placement Test, which is administered by the Afghan
Foreign Language Institute,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Umar M. Khan, Chief,
Professional Military Education and Training Programs Branch, SAO-A, who is
deployed out of Maxwell Air Force Base. “The Training Branch receives the
results of the ALCPT; if the candidate scores above a certain level on that
exam, then SAO-A Training Branch administers the English Comprehension Level
Yarghal passed the tests, his request was approved and after SAO-A coordinated
travel, he was on his way to the United States.
Following the completion of the advanced English language course, Yarghal
traveled from Texas to Georgia and enrolled in the Infantry Basic Officer
Leadership Course. It was there that he heard his American peers discussing
their desire to attend Ranger School, one of the toughest training courses for
U.S. soldiers. He immediately volunteered and spent any extra time reading the
Army Ranger Handbook, and pushing himself through extra physical training.
It paid off. He passed the Ranger Training Assessment Course, qualifying him to
attend Ranger School.
“I was very tired after two weeks of RTAC, but it prepared me for Ranger
School, and Ranger School is not easy,” reflected Yarghal.
The intensive leadership course consists of eight weeks of intense physical and
mental training. There are three distinct phases of Ranger School called
Benning, Mountain and Florida.
Yarghal said that the support of his squad proved instrumental in his success
throughout the difficult course.
“The other classmates supported me and I supported them. It is teamwork,” said
Yarghal. “They told me ‘You will be great in your Army.’”
“Yarghal is a fantastic soldier, man and teammate,” said 1st Lt. Patrick Diehl,
who was in a squad with Yarghal at Ranger School. “We come from very different
cultures and live completely different lives but that didn't stop us from
bonding through the hardships of Ranger School and working together. We
laughed, sweat, bled and worked together to earn our tabs and I wouldn't have
wanted anyone else in my squad.”
Less than 50 percent of students who enroll in Ranger School graduate. During
the grueling course, Yarghal did not “recycle,” a process where students must
repeat a phase in order to continue with the training, and in Oct. 2015,
Yarghal graduated from Ranger School.
“Maj. Gen. [Austin] Miller [Commander, U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence]
had inspired me, and told me he thought I could complete the course,” said
Yarghal. “I didn’t want to let him down, or all the other people who helped me
Miller had the honor of pinning on Yarghal’s Ranger tab.
"We are very proud of Lt. Yarghal not only for his successes in our
course, but his very sincere desire to be as well trained as possible so that
he is able to contribute to the security and well-being of Afghanistan,"
Looking back, Yarghal says it was all worth it.
“I gained three important things from Ranger school: military leadership, time
management and teamwork,” said Yarghal. “If I am leading 40 to 60 soldiers, I
know we can destroy the enemy. If your soldiers do not trust your abilities,
you won’t be able to do anything.”
Khan has no doubt that Afghanistan’s newest Ranger will be an effective leader.
“Leadership is the key to success for any military organization—that is its
greatest asset, and it is what makes it strong. Make no mistake—the ANA is
stronger because of Lt. Yarghal’s drive, determination and skills as a combat
leader,” said Khan.
Following his graduation from Ranger School, Yarghal went on to successfully
complete the Basic Airborne Course. Since his return to Afghanistan, Yarghal
has been serving at the Ministry of Defense Headquarters Security Support
“I was not completely confident about leading soldiers on a battlefield until
Ranger School. Now I want to do Special Forces,” said Yarghal. “I am not
worried anymore; I know I am a good leader and soldier for Afghanistan.”